Paul Clement has already passed one stiff examination with distinction, but his former teaching colleagues expect more achievements to come.
Former PE master Clement has proved an inspired choice by Swansea to replace hapless American Bob Bradley, who lasted only 85 days.
Despite being mired in the drop zone at the turn of the year, the Swans have climbed five points clear with five wins under Clement ahead of today’s crunch trip to Hull.
It is a remarkable turnaround for a side who had won just three Premier League matches all season under Francesco Guidolin and then Bradley.
But it is no surprise to former colleagues at Glenthorne High School, where Clement worked from 1996 to 2000.
Clement, 45, was head of boys PE at the Surrey school, while he also did some coaching part-time for Chelsea’s academy.
Friends recall a talented teacher whose leadership and coaching skills even saw him produce a decent basketball team.
But football was always Clement’s passion and he eventually swapped teaching for permanent roles at Fulham then
It helped Clement reach the big time in 2009 after being promoted to work with Guus Hiddink’s first team squad at the Blues before becoming assistant under successor Carlo Ancelotti, who he followed to Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. Now he is a successful Premier League boss in his own right after emerging from Ancelotti’s shadow since swapping GCSE homework for management.
But teaching colleagues, like his head of PE Belinda Norman, still recall the enthusiastic young teacher who helped to organise a school trip to Spain – including Barcelona’s Nou Camp stadium.
Belinda, still at Glenthorne, said: “Once Paul couldn’t take on one of his football fixtures.
“So I took the boys in a bus to their fixture and I said to them, ‘It is just a friendly and we will see how it goes’.
“Straightaway they said, ‘No, Mr Clement says there is no such thing as a friendly’, which I still remember.
“Paul worked really well – he was firm but fair. There were four of us in the department. We worked really closely together.
“He took fixtures and taught a whole range of things in the curriculum. He set up our first residential water sports trip to Spain, when we also visited the Nou Camp (below).
“At the time our basketball teams were really successful and he did a lot with them as well, which was one of his sports.
“They did really well in the borough. He has always been extremely professional and well-read in terms of coaching and philosophies.
“I remember he did a really good assembly about Vince Lombardi, the successful American Football coach.
“You can forget a lot of assemblies, but I remember that from nearly 20 years ago. It clearly struck a note.
“The kids respected him and enjoyed his lessons – he had no nicknames I recall. Hopefully a lot of stuff he will have worked on in the past he will have been able to adapt for Premier League players.”
Given Clement’s dad Dave and brother Neil were both professional players, it was always highly likely he would follow them into the game.
But Clement has not forgotten his time at Glenthorne, where he returned in 2010, while Chelsea assistant, for an awards evening.
Belinda added: “He was really good. He spoke about working hard and putting the practice in as well as setting targets.
“The kids enjoyed it and there were still staff who remembered him. He is a really positive role model for the kids and someone for them to aspire to as he taught at their school.”